Company Claims Patent on Wireless Roaming

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For a long time, a Holy Grail of the mobile world was a way of allowing devices to roam seamlessly between different types of wireless networks. For example, a user could be driving in his car connected to a GSM/GPRS network for voice and data and, when he arrives at his office, be instantly handed off to a local Wi-Fi network, where his call is no longer counted against his mobile phone service and data access is much faster.

A number of companies have been working on ways to make this happen for years and one of them, Calypso Wireless, came up with a method and obtained a patent on it.

Recently, Calypso began contacting wireless service providers to tell them its patent covers not only a way of roaming between different types of networks, but also the idea of doing so.

“For any mobile device, cellular phone, PDA or laptop that’s able to roam between any current or future mobile network and Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or any other wireless LAN network, they will have to pay a licensing fee to us,” a company spokesperson told internetnews.com.

Of course, other companies aren’t taking this lying down. One pointed out that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) created Mobile-IP in 1996, years before Calypso filed its patent. Mobile-IP extends the existing Internet Protocol to allow a portable computer to be moved from one network to another without changing its IP address and without losing existing connections.

It seems virtually certain that this will be argued out in court well before Calypso sees any licensing fees.

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